Engagement sessions are a great way to connect with your clients, but they are very different from the grueling marathon of photographing a wedding. You have a lot more time than you do on the wedding day to set up poses and get to know the couple. Here at ShootDotEdit, we help wedding pros with their color correction and print sales, and we see a lot of engagement sessions each and every season. Here are 10 tips to help professional wedding photographers nail the engagement session and your engagement photo poses.
1. Use Basic Poses
Engagement Shoots should always follow the KISS principle – Keep It Simple – particularly when it comes to posing. Basic wedding photographer poses always help to get the best shots and help the session to flow smoothly. Pick poses that you know in advance will be flattering and comfortable to both the future bride and the groom. It can be good to have a few “go-to” poses, just in case you get in a bind. For more posing tips, make sure to watch our Posing Critique Online Training with Roberto Valenzuela.
2. Bring Minimal Gear
Following the Keep It Simple mantra, less is more when it comes to choosing camera gear for an engagement shoot. You don’t need to haul your whole wedding rig. Even though the engagement shoot is shorter than the wedding day, there is plenty of movement involved (which can tire you out, especially with too much gear to carry around). If planned right, one camera body (with a backup in the car!) and two or three of your favorite lenses should be enough.
3. Provide Clear Instructions
Since this is usually your first time working with the couple, be sure to be extra clear with posing instructions and engage in light-hearted banter. Engagement shoots can be great practice sessions before the wedding day. It allows you to get to know the couple and vice-versa. It also helps to establish trust in advance.
4. Switch Shooting Angles
Posing may be simple, but the shooting angles do not have to be. Make sure to always get your “safe shot” in a pose, then look for different angles before you move the couple. Think very close up and very far away for more variation. When you have a variety of angles to shoot from, your portfolio becomes more diverse, helping you attract ideal clients when you share the images.
5. Incorporate your Environment
Shoot through objects and use your surroundings as props. For example, if you find yourself in a field with tall grasses and wildflowers, consider posing the couple in the grasses, then position yourself to include some out-of-focus greenery in the foreground of the image. It can help add visual interest and establish where you are location wise.
6. Find the Perfect Light
Look for the right lighting by scheduling engagement shoots during the “golden hour” – that time of day one hour after sunrise or one hour before sunset. You may not have any say over timing or lighting on the wedding day, so use the engagement session to book during your ideal shooting time.
Tip: If for some reason you cannot book the engagement session during your ideal shooting time, practice new lighting techniques! From understanding how to work through harsh lighting to shooting at night, capturing the perfect light during the engagement shoot is possible in any situation.
7. Let it Rain
Do not immediately cancel because of inclement weather. Overcast skies or even a little sprinkle can provide interesting lighting conditions. Also, umbrellas or tucking the couple under the eaves can be fun ways to show intimacy. Take a look at these tips to keep your gear safe in dangerous conditions.
8. Shoot for an Album
A popular way to showcase an engagement session is to have it printed as a guest signing book to display at the wedding. Keep that in mind during the session and look for details or angles that will add to a possible book layout. An album is something your couple can keep and show their friends and family members, keeping you top of mind in case they might need a wedding photographer.
9. Encourage Interaction
Because you are showcasing two people in love and committing their lives to each other, kissing, hugging, and holding hands are all appropriate during the engagement shoot, and will make great moments. Just try to avoid anything the couple would not want to show their future grandchildren.
10. Enjoy the Shoot
Engagement sessions are a great way to capture beautiful portraits of people and showcase your signature style. Take moments to have fun with the couple – even if they don’t yield any images, you are building rapport with the couple. And that will pay off in big dividends on the wedding day!
Creating the best poses for the bride and groom can help them relax and provide you with genuine expressions. When you can include your couple’s emotions into the engagement shoot, you will continuously create stunning photos they are sure to love! Learn more about posing your couples on the wedding day with our Pro Photographer Lighting and Posing Guide!